Tag Archives: angels

Praying with Anticipation (No. 12 of the Series “Prayer: What Difference Does It Make?”)

Today’s message summary of December 17, 2017 from Assistant Pastor Travis Jackson:

Luke 2:1-40

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. 

Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, Dont be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.

Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and peace on earth to people he favors!

When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Lets go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.

They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard, which were just as they had been told.

When the eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesusthe name given by the angel before he was conceived. And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (just as it is written in the law of the Lord, every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons).

There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israels consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lords Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him up in his arms, praised God, and said,

Now, Master,

you can dismiss your servant in peace,

as you promised.

For my eyes have seen your salvation.

You have prepared it

in the presence of all peoples

a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and glory to your people Israel.

His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and told his mother Mary: Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposedand a sword will pierce your own soulthat the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and was a widow for eighty-four years. She did not leave the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 

When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and Gods grace was on him.

Caesar Augustus’ decree made note of the number of people he could render with taxes, but little did he know was acting within God’s control and predestination of the coming of Jesus Christ and His birth in Bethlehem.  Caesar was the head of the Roman Empire, but God was the head of Caesar.

Each one of us is a part of God’s divine plan to live according to His purpose.

Note also the significance of the lineage of David and the prophetic message of Micah:

Micah 5:2-5

Bethlehem Ephrathah,

you are small among the clans of Judah;

one will come from you

to be ruler over Israel for me.

His origin is from antiquity,

from ancient times.

Therefore, Israel will be abandoned until the time

when she who is in labor has given birth;

then the rest of the rulers brothers will return

to the people of Israel.

He will stand and shepherd them

in the strength of the Lord,

in the majestic name of the Lord his God.

They will live securely,

for then his greatness will extend

to the ends of the earth.

He will be their peace.

When Assyria invades our land,

when it marches against our fortresses,

we will raise against it seven shepherds,

even eight leaders of men.

 

The Anticipation of Joseph and Mary (Luke 2:1-7)

Mary was chosen by God to bear and be the mother of the Son of God.  We know that her life changed drastically.  She was hidden for much of her pregnancy and spent much of her time with Elizabeth (she avoided public view to prevent ridicule), and Joseph was going to divorce her quietly (Matthew 1:18-23).

We understand that Mary was blessed because of who she gave birth to.

Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, recognized this truth as well, and told her:

Luke 1:39-45

In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah  where she entered Zechariahs house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Marys greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she exclaimed with a loud cry: Blessed are you among women, and your child will be blessed! How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her!

Joseph honored God’s request to not divorce Mary, and was told to get up and flee Herod’s effort to destroy the first born children.

Matthew 2:13-15

After they were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Get up! Take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to kill him. So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. He stayed there until Herods death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called my Son.

The world was now beholding the presence of their Savior–the Lord of all creation:

Luke 2:6-7

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Did Mary understand the magnitude and significance of who her child was?

 

The Anticipation of the Shepherds and Angels (Luke 2:8-21)

Look upon these verses and ask yourself this question:  Why did God grant the shepherds the privilege of hearing the message of Christ’s birth?

The shepherds were likely looked down upon by members of society, and because they could not keep up with all of the matters of purification as proclaimed by the Pharisees.  God directly chose the shepherds because He wanted to show that He Himself would be the Shepherd for all of the people.

Ezekiel 34:15-16

I will tend my flock and let them lie down. This is the declaration of the Lord God. I will seek the lost, bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the weak, but I will destroy the fat and the strong. I will shepherd them with justice.

This is exactly what Jesus said of Himself:

John 10:7-10

Jesus said again, Truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didnt listen to them. I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

He proclaimed the good news of salvation and eternal life.

When you look at Jesus Christ’s birth, it was His presence that gives each one of us life.  It is a wonderful assurance of His birth taken in the human form of a servant and humbled Himself through His life to the cross.

Don’t gloss over this moment during this holiday season and recognize that the greatest gift is that from Jesus Christ and eternal life through salvation.

The shepherds received the information from the angels (the word “angel” means “messenger”), and glorified God for everything that they had seen after the angels told them what was happening.  They were able to share the message with others.

Angels played a major part of delivering the message of salvation to the people here.

Luke 2:11-14

Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.

Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and peace on earth to people he favors!

1 Peter 1:12

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you.  These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.  Angels desire to look into these things.

The angels are waiting in anticipation of God’s promise of the completion of His plan and how He will reconcile everything to Himself.

If we fail to praise God, the angels certainly will do it.  They are waiting with great anticipation as to how everything will come about.

 

The Anticipation of Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:22-40)

Luke 2:25-35

There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israels consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lords Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him up in his arms, praised God, and said,

Now, Master,

you can dismiss your servant in peace,

as you promised.

For my eyes have seen your salvation.

You have prepared it

in the presence of all peoples

a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and glory to your people Israel.

His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and told his mother Mary: Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposedand a sword will pierce your own soulthat the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

 

Simeon prayed to the Lord that he would not see death until he saw the Savior, and God promised him that he would.  He knew when he was going to pass on, but it was clear that the Spirit was on him and was speaking to him about the Messiah. Simeon was anticipating the appearance of the Messiah and noted that He was not just for the Jews but also for the Gentiles.  He learned from this experience that God would bring all people to Himself.

Anna was faithful to God because of her dedication to worship and praise continually day and night.  When she came to the temple, she showed her appreciation over His presence and was anticipating His coming.

We anticipate Christ’s return and His declaration as Lord and Savior of our lives.

 

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Revelation: The Sixth Seal

Today’s message summary of March 6, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

God desires for man to come to a place of surrender and repentance. What does God have to allow in your life to bring you to a place of brokenness and surrender?

In Revelation Chapter 9, the first woe has passed, and there are two more to come.

Revelation 9:12-17

The first woe has passed. There are still two more woes to come after this. The sixth angel blew his trumpet. From the four horns of the gold altar that is before God, I heard a voice say to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels who were prepared for the hour, day, month and year were released to kill a third of the human race. The number of mounted troops was 200 million; I heard their number. This is how I saw the horses in my vision: The horseman had breastplates that were fiery red, hyacinth blue and sulfur yellow. The heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and from their mouths came fire, smoke, and sulfur.

God has appointed this time here, and he appoints times for things to occur in our own lives. He operates with precision.

These angels that were used are likely fallen angels, because they were bound to be released at this time to fulfill God’s purpose. The population of the earth was still growing at this time.

Revelation 9:18-19

A third of the human race was killed by these three plagues–by the fire, the smoke, and the sulfur that came from their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, which resemble snakes, have heads, and they inflict injury with them.

The fire, smoke and sulfur was inflicted through the mouths of the creatures. It may be in the form of gunpowder, insecticides and sulfuric acid. These are demonic spirits that are being released, and their mouths have this power.

We need to be clear that teaching is very important. The Holy Spirit is who enables a person to teach under the blood of Christ. Anything that we would do on our own needs to be suppressed under the power of Christ. God’s Word has healing power in the mind of a person who desires to seek Him.

If you are not being taught under the power of Christ, you absolutely need to believe that there is demonic teaching and influence.

1 Timothy 4:1-2

Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.

2 Timothy 2:22-26

Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels. The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will.

Revelation 9:20-21

The rest of the people, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands to stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which are not able to see, hear, or walk. And they did not repent of their murders, their sorceries, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.

Sin creates hardened hearts and stubbornness. It causes people to withdraw from God. Satan tries to stop people from even our own witnessing in our own homes. We are to pray for power through the Holy Spirit to overpower Satanic or demonic influence in the lives of others.

Are you praying that God opens the eyes of those who are not following God? They very well may have received incorrect instruction and need to be guided gently to the truth. Are you taking the steps needed to pray for those who need improvement in their life?

Those that choose not to repent create man-made gods. It breeds idolatry and man-made philosophies.

Colossians 2:8

Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.

Psalm 115:4-8

Their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk. They cannot make a sound with their throats. Those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them.

Hosea 13:2

Now they continue to sin and make themselves a cast image, idols skillfully made from their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. People say about them, “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves.”

After all is said and done, only God Himself can break through the strongholds of sin in a person’s life. God is the One who sets up and takes down. We as servants live for the purpose of glorifying Him.

Psalm 2:8

Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance and the ends of the earth Your possession.

 


The Seven Trumpets (Part 1)

Today’s message summary of January 3, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Most people today will continue to fail to acknowledge God. Even though Scripture notes this, we are reminded by Scripture to continue to proclaim the good news about Jesus Christ. It is for this reason: God is not in a hurry to do away with those who don’t acknowledge Him. He desires for all men to be saved. But make no mistake about this…there is a day that is coming when there will be the end.

God is merciful. God is putting off the death sentence for those who don’t know Him until the time that they repent and accept Christ as Savior.

God holds back His judgment until that time when there will no longer a restraint on His grace and mercy. And there will be no mistake about the presence of God and His wrath in that day.

Revelation 6:16-17

And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of Their wrath has come! And who is able to stand?”

Some people will decide that they do not want to have anything to do with God; however, there will be a time when God will have something to do with them.

When you examine, in Revelation, the seals, trumpets and bowls, the judgments become worse and worse over time. God’s wrath, soon after this, will be poured out. Satan uses man, at that time, to create destruction and devastation. Satan deceives the people to carry out these acts, and God, of course, allows it. It is part of His plan.

Man will use reasoning to refuse to acknowledge God. They will avoid any situation or circumstance that moves one to conclude that Satan was present; for example, we try to explain why Hitler did what he did without mentioning that Satan was involved. We do this because of fear in that we do not want to acknowledge that God and Satan are present. The reasoning of man is to give an explanation of why something happened in order to remove fear and maintain control of the situation. People are not afraid because reasoning something into natural causes or occurrences removes fear.

Note that as we move into Revelation, Chapter 8, God will move in such a way that no one will be able to explain Him away.

In Chapter 8, the angels of heaven see the real terror that is to come. People on earth have not yet seen it or know what to expect.

Hebrews 10:26-27, 30-31

For if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries.

For we know the One who has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge His people. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!

 

Psalm 76:7

And You–You are to be feared. When You are angry, who can stand before You?

 

Psalm 7:11

God is a righteous judge and a God who shows His wrath every day.

Note that society today has tried to remove God from everything in order to make Him invisible, because of the logic that if we cannot see Him, there is no reason to be fearful of Him. If He is unseen or invisible, it gives justification for living any way one chooses.

Back to Revelation 8, there is silence in heaven once the angels see what is going to happen. There is no choir singing or praises taking place. It is the quiet before the storm.

Revelation 8:1

When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

Note that God is angry with the wicked every day. What holds back God from expressing His wrath? It is His mercy.

 

Lamentations 3:22-23

Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!

 

Psalm 103:8-9

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in faithful love. He will not always accuse us or be angry forever.

 

The angels, in Revelation 8, see the actions of God pouring out His anger. Note that, out of the Seventh Seal come the seven trumpets.

John says that he saw seven angels:

Revelation 8:2-4

Then I saw the seven angels who stand in the presence of God; seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel, with a gold incense burner, came and stood at the altar. He was given a large amount of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the gold altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up in the presence of God from the angel’s hand.

The angels are carrying out the message as direct servants of God. The message is that God will now being carrying out the judgment Himself. He will be carrying out what was already noted in Revelation 6:

Revelation 6:9-11

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had. They cried out with a loud voice: “Lord, the One who is holy and true, how long until You judge and avenge our blood from those who live on earth?” So a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer until the number would be completed of their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were going to be killed just as they had been.

Revelation 8:5-6

The angel took the incense burner, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it to the earth; there were rumblings of thunder, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. And the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.

Now come the trumpets being blown by the angels, with God carrying out His wrath:

Revelation 8:7 (The First Trumpet)

The first angel blew his trumpet, and hail and fire, mixed with blood, were hurled to the earth. So a third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

Revelation 8:8-9 (The Second Trumpet)

The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain ablaze with fire was hurled into the sea. So a third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures of the sea dies, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

Revelation 8:10 (The Third Trumpet)

The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from heaven. It fell on a third of the rivers and springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood, and a third of the waters became wormwood. So, many of the people died from the waters, because they had been made bitter.

God is saying to those who do not trust in Him that there will be an account. There is nothing to fear as long as you trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. He will keep you in fellowship with Him, but while he is merciful and compassionate, He will judge the wicked of this world.

Romans 3:23-24

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.


What is Sin? (First in a Series)

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

We live in a wicked world, and often we can’t figure it all out. We often ask questions about it. What we need to understand is that sin has boundaries. There is not anything that takes place without God’s permission. He allows many people to live in spite of their sinful behaviors. Sin is about a person doing something in his or her own way.

Sin is relevant to something that a person knows or observes. It is taking something that God created or made known, but going further than what God had intended. Satan wants mankind to sin because it is rebellion against God. It is the efforts of the demons and demonic influence of this world that promotes and encourages sin.

During this series we will be looking at the psychological effects of sin on our families, the third and fourth generations, and how many children are adversely affected by the consequences of sin. There is anger and dysfunction expressed by children who, for example, do not have fathers. The children are unable to process or understand their circumstances, and express their feelings in response to this lack of understanding.

We can only begin to see and understand the effects of sin on a person’s life, and much of it can affect a person’s mind in such a way where, over time, it can be debilitating and devastating.

There are two words that God will reflect in these consequences of sin–correction and discipline. God will provide one of these or both of these. We can’t always know what the discipline and correction is, but we know that it is usually accompanied with pain and disappointment.

God created everything…even in his creation He allows sin and sinful behaviors. He could not give us the ability to have free will without also creating the ability to reject Him and to commit sin. Note that God also provides His knowledge and wisdom through God’s Word. He is a just and righteous God who provides truth through this wisdom to make choices that lead you towards God rather than away from Him. Because of this knowledge, God has the right to punish, discipline and correct those who choose to reject Him.

Isaiah 45:7
I form light and create darkness,
I make success and create disaster;
I, Yahweh, do all these things.

Your true success in God through Jesus Christ comes from a relationship with Him. He also creates disaster (NIV), calamity (NKJV) and evil (KJV). This is the effect of sin, which robs us from our prosperity and success.

The word “disaster” means anything that happens that brings great harm or damage. The word “evil” represents causing pain or trouble. Pain or trouble is caused by sin. The word “calamity” represents deep trouble or misery–great loss or sorrow.

When we hear the saying “misery loves company,” that’s very true. Satan wants as many people as possible to accompany him into disaster when they fail to overcome their sin and their failure to acknowledge Jesus Christ as personal Savior.

As a person, you can suffer great loss from sin.

What is sin?

The definition of sin in Greek is to miss the mark. Webster’s Dictionary definition is the breaking of a religious law or moral principle.

God is a demanding God, and He will not accept our excuses for not carrying out His Word. Sin is essentially being in disagreement with God and in agreement with Satan.

! John 3:4
Everyone who commits sin also breaks the law; sin is the breaking of law.

James 4:17
So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.

1 John 5:17
All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin that does not bring death.

Even though there is sin that does not lead to death, it does lead to pain and difficulty, and a separation from God.

The Origin of Sin

Sin did not begin with man and mankind.

Job 38:4-7
4 Where were you when I established the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
5 Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 What supports its foundations?
Or who laid its cornerstone
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

The first sin came from the angels with God before heaven and earth. The angels were with God when they saw God create the earth.

Exodus 31:17
It is a sign forever between Me and the Israelites, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.”

Note that the book of Genesis refers to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God was present before heaven along with the angels, who he also created. In addition, Hell was created for the devil and His angels for a final dwelling place in complete separation from God.

Luke 10:18
He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a lightning flash.

Sin begins with Satan. He was intelligent, powerful, and influential with other angels, as well.

Ezekiel 28:17
Your heart became proud because of your beauty;
For the sake of your splendor
you corrupted your wisdom.
So I threw you down to the earth;
I made you a spectacle before kings.

The root of sin is pridefulness and selfishness. Note that King David’s pridefulness led to his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and even more sin with the deceit of the people and the murder of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, in an attempt to cover up his sin and the resulting shame from it.

Isaiah 14:12-14
Shining morning star,
how you have fallen from the heavens!
You destroyer of nations,
you have been cut down to the ground.
13 You said to yourself:
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will set up my throne
above the stars of God.
I will sit on the mount of the gods’ assembly,
in the remotest parts of the North.
14 I will ascend above the highest clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”

We can see, if you look closely at Scripture, that Satan’s rebellion must have taken place sometime during God’s six days of creating the earth. Note that the earth was void and without form in the beginning, and note that Satan was present with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Jesus was a witness to Satan’s departure from heaven himself.

In addition to Satan’s departure from heaven, here is another angel that also went against God:

Revelation 9:11
They had as their king the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he has the name Apollyon.

Don’t believe for a moment that there will not be consequences, or even punishment, from sin.

2 Peter 2:4
For if God didn’t spare the angels who sinned but threw them down into Tartarus and delivered them to be kept in chains of darkness until judgment.

Note that the angels were witnesses to God, His splendor and creation. He judged them immediately for everything that He had done right in front of their eyes. The angels’ experiences were unlike anything man had experienced. God, in His righteousness and His justice, gives man the opportunity to recognize the need for a Savior. With all that sin does to cause damage and destruction, we definitely need His help.

Hebrews 2:16
For it is clear that He does not reach out to help angels, but to help Abraham’s offspring.

The use of definitions come from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. Copyright Merriam-Webster, Inc.
merriam-webster.com/dictionary


The Gift of Christ for Christmas

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
Many of us will wake up Christmas morning in anticipation of what we will find as gifts under the Christmas tree, but consider that we already have a wonderful gift that we have in Jesus Christ!At the time of Christ’s birth, there was not much stated about it publicly…note that it was a message of good news that was carried forth by the angels.Matthew 1:18-21

18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.

20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

The angels proclaimed the message but even they did not have a complete understanding of what God was doing.

Hebrews 2:6-7
6 But one has somewhere testified:

What is man that You remember him,
or the son of man that You care for him?
7 You made him lower than the angels
for a short time;
You crowned him with glory and honor.

The angels asked of God why He cared so much for them:

Psalm 144:3
Lord, what is man, that You care for him,
the son of man, that You think of him?

The angels understood the power of God and how he could eliminate those who did not regard who He was.

1 Peter 1:12
It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things.

Why is it that the angels wondered about these things and yet we, human beings, are less concerned about God, His presence, and His second coming?
If the angels were questioning how God gave favor to man, why don’t we? Note that angels were not redeemed or any means of salvation. They saw evidence of God working in the lives of people, and yet, after 400 years of silence, God used the angels to bring forth His message. Perhaps the angels were busy doing this because man had forgotten the God that they were to serve because we were occupied with other things.

Matthew 2:1-6
2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

3 When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born.

5 “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:

6 And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the leaders of Judah:
because out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd My people Israel.”

Note that Herod was not a Jew. The religious people were not the ones initiating the search for the Christ child. Herod was the one who called for information about the Messiah. He asked if this child was the “King of the Jews.” The three wise men were also not Jews. They came from different lands to seek Jesus. The ones that had the information were apparently not seeking Him.

Note that we have the information available to us as believers in Christ. Do we believe the information in Scripture about Christ’s presence and act upon it?

Micah 5:2
Bethlehem Ephrathah,
you are small among the clans of Judah;
One will come from you
to be ruler over Israel for Me.
His origin is from antiquity,
from eternity.

The birth of Jesus caused some men to seek Him out, while others were troubled by it (Matthew 2:3). Many religious people had the knowledge but were not even looking or acting upon it (Matthew 2:4-5) and were even fighting amongst themselves. The priests saw the same information over and over and yet did not seem to believe what they already knew. They were not looking for the sign that The Lord gave to them in Isaiah 7:14:

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.

The birth of Christ was not hidden from us. Isaiah 7:14 was a sign of what would come. Are we conscious of when God is speaking to us? Some of us spend more time trying to disprove Jesus’ existence instead of choosing to believe in Him.

The angels were providing the messages. They can’t see the future, though.

Luke 1:10-17
10 At the hour of incense the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 An angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and overcome with fear. 13 But the angel said to him:

Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you will name him John.
14 There will be joy and delight for you,
and many will rejoice at his birth.
15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord
and will never drink wine or beer.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit
while still in his mother’s womb.
16 He will turn many of the sons of Israel
to the Lord their God.
17 And he will go before Him
in the spirit and power of Elijah,
to turn the hearts of fathers
to their children,
and the disobedient
to the understanding of the righteous,
to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.

The angel spoke to Zechariah that the person to prepare for Jesus through Elizabeth would be John. Elizabeth was well beyond child-bearing years, but this was to be a testimony to others.

Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 30 Then the angel told her:

Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
31 Now listen:
You will conceive and give birth to a son,
and you will call His name Jesus.
32 He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father David.
33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and His kingdom will have no end.
34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”

35 The angel replied to her:

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore, the holy One to be born
will be called the Son of God.
36 And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

38 “I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

Do you see how God is working in this matter? The people that were chosen were all to provide the testimony of Jesus Christ as Savior. Joseph’s role was very important, too:

Matthew 1:18-24
18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.

20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name Him Immanuel,
which is translated “God is with us.”

24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

Finally, the angels provided a message to the shepherds.

Luke 2:8-20
8 In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. 12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

14 Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to people He favors!
15 When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

16 They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough. 17 After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told.

We need to keep in mind that God had been silent for quite some time before this moment because the people were enemies of God. They were not paying attention to Him or regarding His presence. It is to the wonderment of the angels that God paid so much attention to His creation, yet they were rejoicing over what God had done.

The message had been passed on from the angels to the people. The shepherds proclaimed the message and praised God while doing so, and the people who heard it were amazed! The people are proclaiming the gospel message to everyone who hears it to this day.

God will show Himself to you if you truly want to see Him. He will make Himself known to you if you truly want to know Him. God wants each of us to know that Jesus Christ is your Savior and He is ready to make Himself known to you. All it takes is believing that He is your Lord and Savior with all of your heart.

There’s no pastor that can save you. There’s no deacon or elder that can save you. There’s no church denomination that can save you. There’s only one name under heaven and earth that can save you…Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17, 14:6). You can come to Jesus Christ just as you are, but you will not stay as you are.

This Christmas, do not allow yourself to be troubled or uncaring about Jesus Christ and the gospel of His saving message. If there is any time that we need to be telling the truth about Christ, this is the time. Leave the results to Him.